Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Baldilocks onto something?

"LGF is gone. Charles Johnson is gone. Face it. He was never ours. How about we let him take his delusions and slanders and paranoias and obsessions and falsehoods with him?"
-- Baldilocks (Juliette Ochieng)

Juliette certainly is not alone in seeing recent blogospheric rumblings as a belated denouement of the LGF meltdown.

The 2001-2005 period, when the Global War On Terror (GWOT) coincided with the rise of the political blogosphere, was also the apogee of what might be called the Karl Rove Center-Right Strategy.

Seeking to maintain maximum support for President Bush and the Republican Party, the Rove strategy involved "triangulation" to neuter Democratic Party arguments on domestic issues. No Child Left Behind, Medicare rescription drug benefits, the 2006-07 push to grant amnesty or guest-worker status to illegal aliens -- these were typical policy initiatives of the Rove strategy.

Especially after the 9/11 attacks, this "center-right" approach was mirrored in the rhetoric of much of the conservative blogosphere. Many GOP-aligned bloggers were understandably eager to elicit the support of liberals, or members of traditional Democratic constituencies, for the administration's foreign policy:

"Oh, look, this person is gay (or black, or feminist, or Joe Lieberman) and yet is strongly in favor of winning the Iraq war."

Which was all fine and good, in terms of the immediate goal of rallying support for the GOP and the Bush administration. Yet by focusing narrowly on a short-term foreign-policy consensus, the Rove center-right approach sowed the seeds of its own destruction.

The Great Unraveling
Once the war became unpopular, and once Democrats were able to shift the political focus to GOP vulnerabilities -- the Mark Foley and Jack Abramoff scandals in 2006, the economy in 2008 -- the Republican electoral coalition that had triumphed in the 2002 and 2004 elections unraveled with astonishing suddenness.

By attempting to unite disparate constituencies without any general agreement on political principles -- except that the U.S. response to terrorism should be forceful and comprehensive -- the Republican Party under Rove's direction had in some sense replicated LBJ's Vietnam-era debacle.

The Democratic hawks who were so key to the Cold War consensus in the U.S. had believed that popular support for fighting communism abroad could be purchased by enactment of liberal domestic policies. And in LBJ's 1964 landslide win over Barry Goldwater, these Democrats believed they had seen the vindication of that strategy.

Yet by 1968, the bloody prolongation of the Vietnam war and the upsurge of domestic chaos -- urban riots and campus protests -- splintered that victorious 1964 coalition so badly that, at one point, polls indicated that Hubert Humphrey might finish third behind Richard Nixon and George Wallace in the 1968 presidential election. (An anti-Wallace campaign led by the AFL-CIO helped prevent that scenario.)

From Values Voters to Obama Nation
For similar reasons, the Republican electoral coalition that seemed so formidable in the wake of the 2004 election -- remember the liberal panic over the "moral values" exit-poll question? -- has proven less durable than advocates of the Rove Center-Right Strategy hoped. Like the Democrats of 1964, the Rove-era Republicans assembled a coalition fraught with unreconciled conflicts.

We should not be surprised that what has transpired in electoral politics has been mirrored in the political blogosphere. Andrew Sullivan was one of the first to leap off the Bush bandwagon, screaming "homophobia" as he went. More recently we've seen Charles Johnson take his leave from the post-Bush Right, screaming "ultranational neofascist theocratic extremism" as he goes.

It is easy to shrug and to dismiss these developments with two words: "Batshit crazy."

However, the batshit craziness is not without cause, and that cause is the failure of Republican leaders -- and prominent conservative communicators -- to articulate consistently the Reaganesque message of freedom.

Last summer, when arguments over the Wall Street bailout were coming to full boil, I used "Libertarian Populism" as the title of an American Spectator column. Nobody's offered me a book contract to elaborate on that "Libertarian Populism" concept, but that idea is exactly what you've seen at work in the past year in the Tea Party movement.

Those Tea Party crowds are responding to a pro-freedom message expressed in populist language, viewing Big Government and Big Business (think: Tim Geithner, AIG, the GM takeover) as corrupt partners in an insider-elite agreement to defraud taxpayers and disempower citizens.

Another 'Time for Choosing'
It was hardly a coincidence that Charles Johnson reacted so harshly to the Tea Party phenomenon. Johnson and his LGF cult have never been libertarian and were "populist" only insofar as that term meant mocking John Kerry and Muslims.

When the political alignment of 2001-04 -- forged by what I've called the Rove Center-Right Strategy -- collapsed in 2006-08, it was inevitable that some supporters of the former Republican coalition would not be part of whatever new coalition emerged to take its place.

Just as the rise of the Reagan coalition resulted in the obsolescence of the liberal Republicans who had been an important part of the Eisenhower coalition, the emerging Tea Party coalition will render obsolete many of those who were part of the G.W. Bush coalition.

As Reagan famously said in 1964, we are at a crossroads, a "Time for Choosing" and I trust that it is with sadness Juliette bids farewell to former friends.


  1. I'm not sure this applies to Johnson. I sincerely believe he's had some kind of "mental break". Politics aside, his writing style has changed (I mean that literally. His wording and patterns are different.), along with his attitude. I used to really enjoy his site. Now I find it dull, three or four rants about right bloggers for every picture of the beach. (Even his photography is different. Now he ONLY runs beach shots, where he used to post a variety of interesting pics.)

    I don't check in like I used to. (Although I'm sitting on an un-banned membership, for when I choose to look in on their "secret club" threads.) It's not because of his self-described break with the right, either. I regularly read Kos, DemocraticUnderground, and DemocratsDOTcom - all further left than CJ... It's that he doesn't write anything interesting enough to read anymore and is wrapped up in his conspiracy/persecution deal.

    Heh. On a side note, I originally found my way to this site because I wanted to check out the guy he was ranting about. I prefer it here. ;)

    But back to my point. I really think he's cracked. I don't think it has anything to do with the right or politics. Something in him has changed, and affected his writing and personality, I think. Maybe we should all just pity and ignore him, like a crazy relative.

  2. My login at LGF still works because I have not been there in about 3 years.

    Back in the day, CJ was a big supporter of the WOT and Israel.

    Wow, I went to the site two minutes ago, and wanna take a shower, kinda like going to the daily kooks, uh, just like going to the kooks.

    Syphillus is a bad brain wasting disease. Chuckie got it bad.

  3. I have no proof but I always thought the reason why President Bush never vetoed things for most of his terms was a deal to make sure that democrats who publicly attacked the war would make sure they co-operated when it came to fighting it.

    Just a gut feeling. I don't know if Rove was behind that or no.

  4. Maybe I picked this stick up by the wrong end, but I don't think Baldilocks is saying farewell to anyone.....I think she is suggesting that others say farewell to Charlie.........

  5. Damn you Robert Stacy McCain, get out of my brain and stop stealing my mind-thoughts!

  6. "Oh, look, this person is gay (or black, or feminist, or Joe Lieberman) and yet is strongly in favor of winning the Iraq war."

    I knew something was wrong when I looked at the roster of speakers for the 2004 GOP nominating convention and the most conservative person there was Zell Miller.

    Aside from him it was liberal Pubbies (Arnie, Rudy) or liberal Democrats (Ron Silver) or whatever John McCain is.

    The conservative wing of the party was locked away in the attic, where it remained for most of Bush's second term.

  7. "Is Baldilocks onto something?"

    I think so. Look at what she says.

    "How about we stop looking for racists under every bed or behind every computer screen the way he seems to?"

    This means LGF, of course. It's also your situation. And there was a crack down on "racists" at Hot Air. And it's starting to become the situation at Ace of Spades, once a bastion of free expression. I think Baldi was referring to this entire collection of things.

  8. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood..."

    You all above have it right.

  9. Actually K~Bob said:

    I like that. "Once a bastion of free expression." Ace told everyone he would begin banning overtly stupid, racist, bullshzt. This began a long, well-reasoned discussion.

    Implying that's the same as "looking for racists under every bed" is an odd tactic.

    A house with no rules is an anarchy.

    My definition of an anarchist: The first to die when true anarchy prevails.

    I find nothing wrong with a little organization in the midst of chaos. I expect a few rules here and there, and I defend the right of a man to set the rules in his own house.

    Returning to the topic of Stacy's post, yeah, Charles was never on the side of Conservatives. Or Libertarians. Or even people like me.

  10. er, most of the "racists" at hot air were the mobies chuckles sent over there [!!]

  11. The Wondering JewFri Dec 11, 01:22:00 AM

    Baldilocks is on target as always. I have had the privilege of meeting her in person and she is a voice of sense, intelligence, and sanity.

    I actually like Patterico, and just think he has made a big mistake here, but I've said it before and I'll say it again-- except in some extreme circumstance, conservatives should never call each other "racists". It just plays into the left's strategy. We will never win the "Who is more racist" game with them-- not when they have the SPLC smear machine and their media allies to tar and feather anyone who deviates from the PC line.

    This isn't about Stacy's personal views or past comments, (which in any case, he denies are racist)-- The point is that conservatives shouldn't care (as a matter of policy) with what the private views of anyone are-- as long as the support equal treatment before the law for all Americans-- And there has never been a suggestion that Stacy does not. Stacy, of course, feels the need to defend himself from these insinuations but it's a shame that he has to.

    Meanwhile the left is foisting affirmative action, quotas, racial norming of tests and any number of other racially discriminatory and racist policies-- that's what conservatives should be focusing on.

    I don't consider myself racist in any way, but I have no doubt that if you selectively went through 15 years of my email and public writings, you could take quotes out of context or things that I dashed off, or flames that I wrote when I was pissed off at someone and make me look like the Second coming of Adolf Hitler-- and I'm Jewish!

    Calling fellow conservatives racists while the left tightens the grip of racist policies across this country is a losers strategy.

    We need to quit it cold turkey.

  12. "The Democratic hawks who were so key to the Cold War consensus in the U.S. had believed that popular support for fighting communism abroad could be purchased by enactment of liberal domestic policies."

    I heartily disagree. What they believed -- and, until the mid-1970s, more or less correctly -- was that leftist elites could be bribed to not openly and ruthlessly support Communism by enacting progressive domestic policies.

  13. Most Annoying Right-Of-Center Blogger

    2) Robert Stacy McCain (4)
    2) Allahpundit/Hot Air (4)
    1) Debbie Schlussel (7)

    Close but no cigar!

  14. I am astounded that anyone from the right would see any point in replying to a charge of racism. Sentient life cares little for the pratel of the left. Attempting to argue with a socialist is as productive as talking to Barney Frank's dining room table. As to the Bush era center right coalition it failed, in part due to it's iner contradictions. IE Bush was never really that fiscaly conservative. His socialy conservative stands were not enough to create and implement truely conservitive policies this garenteed ultimate failure when the economy tanked. It is only by consistent principaled conservative governence that the right can buy the time required to implement conservative social policy.